Letters to the editor

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Firing Haywood was the correct decision

We applaud University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg's recent decision to fire football coach Michael Haywood shortly after his arrest related to a felony domestic abuse charge in Indiana.

Domestic abuse is the number two killer of women in this country. Loss of productivity related to partner violence costs employers approximately $727.8 million each year. This is a national health issue, a civil rights issue and an economic development concern that our region can no longer afford to ignore.

Employers like the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, Fifth Third Bank, Pittsburgh Foundation and the City of Pittsburgh have rightly joined the Standing Firm Initiative to address partner violence as a workforce issue. This initiative provides employers with best practices for internal policies to educate workers and families to help prevent partner violence from occurring, policies for training employees and managers to detect warning signs, and appropriate protocols to follow when violence occurs.

This recent decision by Mr. Nordenberg must have been a difficult one, with the immediate pressures on the university to create a winning team, but his decision demonstrates his strong leadership, integrity and conviction, which will benefit his athletes, students, faculty and trustees long term.

Someday domestic violence will be something our grandchildren learn about only in history books. But for this to happen, true systemic change must occur. Employers, neighbors, fans and co-workers need to treat domestic abuse like the serious crime that it is.

We are proud of Chancellor Nordenberg and the trustees of the University of Pittsburgh for taking a strong stand in regard to protecting the codes of conduct of our community and setting a better example for our children.

Chief Executive Officer
Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania
Station Square

Change at the top

Thirteen months ago, some residents of Oakland called for the resignation of Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg over the university's failure to care for the community.

It is often said that the means to an end is more important than the end itself. Although the chancellor has been and will continue to be praised by others for the advancements made by the university during his tenure, many of those advancements were made at the expense of the university's local community.

Regardless of the outcome of the embarrassing debacle pertaining to the firing of Pitt's football head coach, men and women of good conscience must seriously consider breaking their silence in order to create a change in Pitt's administration, an action that can genuinely inspire hope of a bright new future for both the university and the community of Oakland.

The writer is the founder of SOUL,
South Oakland Urban Litter, an anti-litter group.

Use with caution

As a medication safety pharmacist, I am saddened to hear of another child harmed by pain patches such as Fentanyl ("Girl in Critical Condition After Using Painkiller Patches," Dec. 28), which is a potent narcotic used for severe pain in cancer patients and patients with chronic pain. Until the drug manufacturers are pushed by the Food and Drug Administration to improve the labeling on the patches, education is the only safety net, which must be provided by health care professionals who prescribe and dispense this drug patch. Also, we must do more to make patients aware of this danger by publishing this medication safety information in the news media.

Michael R. Cohen, president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, has been trying to educate health care professionals and alert the public about this recurring danger. For more information, please visit the organization's website at www.ismp.org.

Upper St. Clair

Unrealized ideal

I read with interest the Dec. 29 letter to the editor, "Israel's Safe Access," and fully agree with the premise that Jerusalem, as a city holy to three faiths, must be available to all. I've just returned from there and know for a fact that this is not the case.

I've stood at the Bethlehem checkpoint and seen thousands of Muslims herded through walkways and into enclosures like cattle. Their crime? Wanting to go to Jerusalem to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan. I work with Palestinian Christians who live in the Old City of Jerusalem. I've heard their stories of being denied access to worship in their own holy sites in the Old City during Holy Week and Easter, unable to walk through the Christian Quarter due to soldiers and barricades.

As for the equality of living conditions in Jerusalem, my cell phone there is connected to a United Nations service that sends text messages every time a Palestinian home is threatened with demolition. In the two weeks before I returned to Pittsburgh, I received eight such messages. Each home can represent generations of people who lose everything and have no possibility of ever obtaining a permit to rebuild.

It would be wonderful to believe in a democratic and open Israel. But it doesn't exist, especially in Jerusalem.


Unhealthy recipe

The letter from Dave Majernik ("Recipe for Disaster," Dec. 22) got under my Christmas skin when I should have been working on my Christmas Eve message. It was his numbers regarding wealth and taxation.

Mr. Majernik notes that the wealthiest 10 percent pay less than 70 percent of taxes, while the bottom 50 percent pays about 3 percent. Yet the U.S. Federal Reserve says the top 10 percent own 80 percent of the wealth, while the lower 40 percent own about 0.2 percent. Looks like the "bottom" pays about 15 times its share. The rich are getting a bargain.

Those who benefit most have a higher stake in the system and, thus, a greater responsibility. This Save-the-Aristocracy tax recipe is making us sick. If it's supposed to avoid Mr. Majernik's "disaster," it's had almost a decade to do so. Where's the economic stimulus? Oh, yeah: Gone to the top 10 percent. (Does anybody else hear Nero tuning his violin?)

Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church
North Side

Whose money is it?

Every time I hear the expression "It's your tax dollars," I smile to myself. We elected our politicians to be fiscally responsible with our tax dollars, yet almost every time you hear the news a tax increase or fee might be necessary for one thing or another.

We would all, I'm sure, like to have a budget like that. Need a new car, new home or want to take an extended vacation? Just tell your employer you need a raise.

An old expression comes to mind -- "O.P.M., It's easy to spend Other People's Money."

In closing, if it's our tax dollars, maybe just maybe, we should decide how it should be spent.

Jefferson Hills

This beautiful structure must be saved

The late 19th-century Queen Anne Victorian house on Brownsville Road in Carrick ("Some in Carrick Strive to Save Victorian House," Dec. 24) is a gem that must be preserved.

The Carrick-Overbrook Historical Society has done a yeoman's job by documenting the property known as the Wigman House and nominating it for historical designation. One hopes that other area historical societies and individual philanthropists will join together to assure its salvation.

While I was growing up on Madeline Street in Carrick, dozens of comparable homes in the area reflected the personalities of the moguls who built them on high ground in order to contemplate the night sky burned red by the glow of steel mills blazing far below.

My family's physician, Dr. Askins, was able to purchase one such mansion on Brownsville Road during the Depression. The exterior, painted contrasting shades of green, emphasized the eerie atmosphere that would have captivated the Addams Family.

Each time we visited his office, I was startled by creaking sounds -- veritable moans -- coming from one of the turrets. When I asked him about them, he tossed me a sly smile. "Those are the ghosts of the original owners," he said. "They cannot bear to leave the tower and lose sight of the city they built."

Just as those ghosts clung to the past, so must the ghosts of the last remaining Victorian mansion in Carrick be appeased.

Scottsdale, Ariz.


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